U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently provided another example of her willingness to join forces with Democrats.
In a vote on Wednesday, Murkowski was the only GOP senator to cross the aisle and support the confirmation of Vanita Gupta, a controversial nominee to a senior position within the Biden administration’s Department of Justice.
Sources of GOP opposition
Thanks in part to Murkowski’s vote, Gupta is now approved as associate attorney general over the opposition of many in the Republican Party.
Most Senate Republicans had been unified in staunch opposition to President Joe Biden’s nominee and Vice President Kamala Harris was reportedly on hand in case she needed to cast a tie-breaking vote in the evenly divided chamber. That proved unnecessary, however, because Murkowski’s vote tipped the scales in Gupta’s favor with a vote of 51-49.
According to the Daily Caller, other GOP lawmakers opposed the nominee on the basis of her “radical” positions and prior statements, including remarks deemed as anti-police, support for drug decriminalization, and allegedly lying while under oath during the confirmation hearings.
Murkowski was initially opposed to the nomination, likely leading others in her party to believe she would stand alongside them to vote against Gupta’s confirmation.
It appears that a subsequent one-on-one meeting between the two women led to a change of heart, which Murkowski explained during remarks on the Senate floor prior to the final vote.
“Very hard on her as a nominee”
The Alaska Republican asserted that she was impressed by Gupta’s “passion” and deep commitment to “justice,” particularly for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Taking aim at those on her side of the aisle, Murkowski asked her fellow Republicans if their opposition was “worth” the toll it had apparently taken on Gupta.
“Because this has been, clearly, very hard on her as a nominee,” she said. “And she paused and reflected and just spoke to how she feels called to serve in a very personal way that I thought was impactful.”
Following her confirmation, Gupta will now serve in what is essentially the third-highest-ranking position in the Justice Department, overseeing the agency’s work in regard to civil litigation and law enforcement matters.
In fact, one of her first assignments will likely be heading up the department’s recently announced civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department. She led a similar federal probe into the Ferguson, Missouri, police agency in 2014 while serving under the Obama administration’s Justice Department.